Saturday, September 28, 2013

Big Beers for the Aging (and Ages)

The Science
  • Malt
    • Use: Highest quality: Marris Otter, Belgian Pilsner, Vienna and Munich
    • What are we trying to get? Melanoidins
      • Formed by Maillard Reaction in kilning or during prolonged boils (4+ hours).
      • Are Reductones - meaning they consume oxygen effectively stabilizing a beer with time.
        • Resultant flavor compunds proportional to quantity in brew.  
          • Examples: Sherry, Maderia, Amaretto
    • Rules
      • Aquisition of Melanoidins: Use larger % of highly kilned malts and/or kettle carmalization
        • Roast - use larger percentages to gain melanoidin compounds, not color
        • Boil Times - approaching and exceeding 4 hours for lesser kilned malts, at least 90 - 120 mins            for higher percentages of kilned malts
      • Retain relatively high amounts of residual sugar (in all but Wild/Belgian)
        • These sugars are reduced with oxidation creating the sought after aged flavor profiles.
        • User of English yeasts provide for this
          • Exception #1: Beers utilizing Belgian yeastt.  HIgher phenolics associated with these strains substitute for residual sweetness in beers like Belgian Quad in aged flavor production. - Choose strain with highest phenolic output.
          • Exception #2: Wild beers.  Bugs are antioxidents and little oxidation will occur anyway.  Aged wild brews result in different flavor development.
  • Hops
    • Only use hops with 1:1 alpha:Beta  - noble hops: Saaz, Tettnanger, EKG, Hallertau
    • Beta acids degrade slower and into compounds favorable in aged beer profiles.
    • Alpha acids degrade to trans-2-nonenal (wet cardboard)

  • Alcohol
    • Min: 8%
    • Hot fusel alcohols ok - they will mellow and add favorable flavor compounds
      • Flavor compounds of aged high alcohols: sweet toffee, almond (aldehydes)
      • Combining with Beta acids produces: fruit/winelike esters and if in a Stout with matured chocolate flavors can translate into black cherry
      • ABV inversely proportional to Aging time, as alcohol is a preservative
  • Wood
    • Barrels fast track oxidation/aging
    • Requires alcohol of plus 7% to have efficient extraction of compounds from wood
    • Stays fairly stable through the aging process
    • Do not use Caramel Malt if using wood.  Caramel sweetness development will become cloying beside perceived wood sweetness
  • Oxidation
    • What - loss of an electron from an oxygen based molecuel to another molecule.
      • ROS - Reactive Oxygen Species - the molecule that lost the oxygen, “oxidized”
    • Results
      • creates new molecukes when interacting with kilned malt molecules
      • degrades alpha acids (negative effect)
      • further develpos phenols and esters
        • causing them to become the “dried fruit” version of their orginal selves.  If plum, then prune, etc...
      • forms aldehydes (almond, toffee, ameretto) from higher alcohols

Styles to Consider
  1. English Barleywine
  2. American Barleywine
  3. Imperial Stout
  4. Scottish Wee Heavy
  5. Belgian Quad (Belgian Strong Dark)
  6. Flanders (Red and Brown)
  7. Geuzes

The Beers

English Barleywine..Why it works
  1. High quality malt - Long boil time - high melanoidin creation
  2. English yeast strains
    1. throw big esters - plus oxidation equals flavor development
    2. produce high alcohols when stressed - plus oxidation equals flavor development
    3. attenuate relatively low, therefore residual sugar content relatively high resulting in sustained body as proteins reduce, slowing of oxidation process via reductones when combined with melanoidins
  • Aging Expectation - 2 to 30 years

Imperial Stouts
  1. Water: Must target London (alkaline) water profiles to buffer against acidity which will cause off-flavors associated with autolysis next to roasted malt
  2. English Yeast strains produce same results as above
  3. Use of high percentage of highly kilned malts age well (Roast, chocolate, etc)
  4. Boil times do not need to be 4 hours as melanoidin content greatly achived through kilned malts - (Min 90 minutes, 120 better)
  5. Aging Expectation - 1 - 3 years before autolysis off-flavors begin to present

Belgians (Quad, big Dubbels)
  1. All the same as English Barleywine except use of Belgian Yeasts tend to a lower residual sugar result.  This is ok, as the phenolics associated with Belgian strains favor positive flavor development.
  2. Aging Expectation - fresh is ok, optimum 5 years.

Other thoughts
  • Bottle Conditioning is best
  • Caps and corks are near equal in efficacy
  • Ideal cellar temp is 10 degress below fermentation temp (55)
  • Only wild brews may benefit from horizontal aging for first few years, otherwise vertical
  • Use of melanoidin malt consider if not boiling long or using high percent of highly kilned malt